Four years ago, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, argued that certain judicial nominees of President Bush should not be confirmed during the last six months of his presidency. Just as a baseball coach cannot change the special ground rules of a particular game when his team comes to bat, Chairman Leahy must apply the same rule to President Obama’s judicial nominees that Leahy applied to President Bush’s judicial nominees. Specifically, Chairman Leahy invoked the “Thurmond Rule” in a letter to President Bush:
“’I urge you [President Bush] to work with senators from other states, as well, so that we might make progress before time runs out on your presidency and the Thurmond rule precludes additional confirmations,’ Leahy said. The so-called ‘Thurmond rule,’ named after former South Carolina Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond, is an informal rule, not universally accepted, whereby judicial nominations do not advance in the Senate in the latter part of a presidential election year without the support of Senate leaders and top lawmakers on the Judiciary committee.” (Emphasis added)1
At most, strict application of the 2008 Leahy rule would preclude all judicial nominations after May 7, 2012. A less strict application of the 2008 Leahy rule would allow perhaps some consensus confirmations, but would preclude confirmation of all controversial nominees. A list of the most controversial nominees is provided herein below.
1 Keith Perine, “Leahy Blames Republican Holds for Blocking Justice Nominees,” CQ Politics, Mar. 20, 2008. Available at: http://cqdevmobile.cdgsolutions.com/wmspage.cfm?docID=news-000002691165 Full text of Senator Leahy's original letter available at: http://www.leahy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/3-20-08PJLtoBush-noms..pdf